Arizona Citizens Supporting Honest Representative Government At All Levels
[Editor: This is a guest columnist who fears retaliation if the name is used. AFA has checked the facts and is printing this because we believe it is important as a means of understanding the issue with the Budget language regarding the SBE. This was not written by an AFA Team member.]
Foundation to the unfortunate discovery of the untrustworthiness of a “conservative”.
For those who did not attend the Senate Education Committee on March 6, Chairwoman Senator Ward expounded ad nauseam that 2184 did nothing more than transfer two FTEs from the oversight of the SPI to the SBE. She reiterated time after time the lie that SPI Douglas requested the transfer. In fact her deprecating tone to those who opposed her amendment was unprofessional in any setting, but especially so in a committee hearing to constituents.
The major bone of contention was the concern by the public that her amendment undermined the historic authority of the elected state official by transferring supervision of personnel to an unelected board under the control of the Governor could do grave danger to the state in the future. Senator Ward dismissed questions from the public and other committee members imperiously.
Segue to the Budget Bill SB1469. Passed in the middle of the night without the opportunity for members or the public to even read the bill, SB1469 created a new separate agency and transferred 11 Full Time Equivalent positions to the SBE. In a deviation from accepted practices, that transfer of personnel was not even listed on the Summary Sheets that members rely on to give them the facts on what is in the bill.
Now to the present. One of our members had an e-mail interchange with Senator Ward on the subject (below in italics)
Subject: SBE - How did this get into the budget?
Sooo, looks like you slipped one over on “we the people”.
SB1469 / HB2671 as transmitted to the Governor and signed, made the SBE a new and separate agency and gave them not just 2 full time employees but grew it to 11 full time employees and $1,705,000 lump sum appropriation. While the legislature stopped moving HB2184 with the Ward amendment making the SBE a separate agency they put it in the budget and expanded the authorized number of employees. So it isn't about " 2 employees" as Senator Ward said in committee, they are now authorized 11 FTE.
From: Kelli Ward [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: RE: SBE - How did this get into the budget?
This is untrue – the SBE had 10.5 FTEs last year as well – there is a miniscule increase to 11 FTE. There is someone putting out very bad information to people in your group.
Actually, Senator, you are the one putting out bad information. No one in our organization has indicated that there were any new FTEs created, just that we were assured by you that there were only two positions being considered for transfer from the voter elected SPI to the governor appointed SBE. As you are aware, Committee Chairs keep close watch on the Appropriations process for their area of responsibility. These budget particulars are NEVER put on the floor for a vote without the approval of the affected Chair. While the SPI assigned certain personnel to work with the SBE in the past, they were employees of and worked under the authority of the SPI.
Senator, your latest communication that we just received at 2:29pm today, spins a different tale and denies the creation of a new agency. That does not pass muster for veracity. In the Senate Summary Sheet for SB1469 – created by the staff you identify as the source for your misrepresentation – states the following: ”Makes the SBE a separate state agency.” I am attaching the language from SB1469 that shows the SBE being funded as a separate agency.
Sec. 33. STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION 2015-16
FTE positions 11.0
Lump sum appropriation $ 1,705,000 ($155,000 per position)
State general fund $ 1,325,200
Teacher certification fund 379,800
Sec. 34. SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
FTE positions 164.9
Operating lump sum appropriation $ 8,802,100 ($53,345 per position)
State general fund $ 8,263,800
Teacher certification fund 138,200
Department of education empowerment
scholarship account fund 400,100
The operating lump sum appropriation includes $683,900 and 8.5 FTE positions for average daily membership auditing and $200,000 and 2 FTE positions for information technology security services. Last, but not least, it is a concern that the positions transferred to the SBE carry with them one-sixth of the budget from the SPI with only one-sixteenth of the personnel.
As conservatives, we are outraged by the inconsistencies communicated by our “conservative” elected official. As fiscal conservatives, we are extremely concerned by the apparent largesse comprised in these eleven positions. In your last e-mail, you stated the following: (Our questioning of the circumstances) “ It leads the conservatives to have to "play defense" with our own people instead of working proactively on our conservative agenda. Frankly, it is disappointing.” Well Senator, when we cannot rely on the assurances of our “conservative” elected officials, it is more than disappointing, it is embarrassing and destructive!
[Editor: Below is another email we received and the response from Senator Ward. Some of the copy above refers to issues brought up in the Senators response below. Thanks to our members who have done follow up on the budget language issue.]
From: Kelli Ward <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 2:29 PM
Subject: RE: About the entry in the Budget
Thanks for writing. I hope I can help clarify some of the misinformation that is being circulated. According to Senate staff, the SBE had 10.5 employees last year and 11 now. There is no real change. There is no new “agency.” There are 3 policy employees and 8 employees who do teacher certification and investigations into complaints about teachers. It is not new. I'm not sure why our side continues to agitate people for no reason. It leads the conservatives to have to "play defense" with our own people instead of working proactively on our conservative agenda. Frankly, it is disappointing.
Pages 17, 23, and 32 from this document will show the new SBE and the equivalent subtraction from ADE.
Page 134 of the Appropriations Report lists the SBE numbers within the ADE budget.
Section 33 of the bill, page 24 of the document shows the new SBE budget unit starting in FY 16.
Senator Kelli Ward, DO, MPH
Serving AZ's 5th Legislative District
Senate Education Chairman
[Editor: In our view, Sen. Ward did not answer the questions asked, such as "was the clause in the budget clearly debated" which we believe to be germane to this issue.]
I don't understand why some are jumping on the Kelli Ward bandwagon so early. As an AFA member I appreciate the information posted here. Keep in mind there is still business going on at the AZ Legislature. We can't just curl up in a fetal position and ignore what is going on there just to protect her because she is the only one so far willing to run against McCain. You should welcome the information which is thoroughly checked out before it is posted. This is an important site to spread the facts and help educate those who don't follow the local politics so closely.